Homemade Old-fashioned Pimento Cheese with roasted red peppers is truly a Southern thing. In fact, this delicious spread is often called the “Caviar of the South.”
Full of cheesy goodness, this simple, old-fashioned pimento cheese recipe includes white and yellow extra-sharp cheddar cheese, roasted red peppers (instead of pimento peppers), mayonnaise, and ground red and black pepper. That’s it!
Even though it technically originated in New York, old-fashioned pimento cheese is a quintessential Southern food. It’s hard to find a church social, backyard barbecue, wedding or baby shower, or an afternoon tea or picnic in the South that doesn’t feature a plate full of pimento cheese finger sandwiches.
These finger sandwiches are often served on white bread with the crust removed and cut into quarters. In fact, pimento cheese sandwiches are among the most popular foods served at the Masters Golf Tournament, held each year in Augusta, Georgia.
Like potato salad and cornbread recipes, there are probably as many recipes for pimento cheese spread as Southern cooks. It’s hard to find a Southern cookbook, especially community cookbooks published by local junior leagues or churches, without at least one recipe.
This old-fashioned recipe, which my friend Kay Judkins shared with me, is my all-time favorite, and I hope you will try it.
Here’s what you will need:
It’s really easy to make, and you can whip up a batch in about 15 minutes. All you need is:
- Extra-sharp white and extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheeses: are aged longer and full-bodied, and bursting with flavor. They taste the same, and the only difference between the two is the color. Yellow cheddar is colored with annatto, a vegetable food coloring. I think the combination of colors makes this dish more visually appealing. But, feel free to use what you have.
- Mayonnaise: binds everything together and provides a bright, tangy freshness to the spread. I won’t go so far as saying everyone in the South uses Duke’s, but it is mighty popular here and my favorite.
- Pimentos or jarred roasted red peppers: are both at home in this dish, and although this recipe calls for roasted red peppers, you can also use pimento peppers.
- Ground red pepper and ground black pepper: enhance the spread’s flavors and give it a barely perceptible kick.
That’s it! It couldn’t be simpler.
Here’s how to make it:
- Gather your ingredients, and use a box grater or a food processor to grate the cheese.
- Drain the pimento or roasted red bell pepper and mince.
- Add the grated cheese, red and black pepper, minced pimento or roasted red bell pepper, and mayonnaise to a medium-size bowl and mix to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Frequently asked questions:
Pimento peppers are small, red, heart-shaped, sweet chili peppers. They are very mild and not at all spicy. Besides being a major ingredient in many pimento cheese recipes, and stuffing green olives, dried pimento peppers are also an ingredient in paprika.
Why yes, I actually prefer to use roasted red peppers instead of pimentos in this recipe.
The short answer is yes. You can substitute plain Greek yogurt or cream cheese, or a combination of the two for mayonnaise.
You can store this spread tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to five days. I do not recommend freezing it, it will adversely affect the texture.
The most common use of this spread is as an appetizer spread or dip. I like to serve it with plain Ritz crackers, but feel free to use your favorite crackers instead. Pimento cheese spread is also a unique ingredient to add to a Relish Tray or charcuterie board and it is an essential ingredient on my Ultimate Southern Style Burger.
The short answer is yes, and I do so occasionally because of the convenience. However, convenience aside, it is cheaper to grate your own, and hand-grated doesn’t contain any of the preservatives to keep it from clumping.
Either purchased or homemade pimento cheese is a versatile ingredient and can be used to make sausage balls, quiches, quesadillas, wraps, omelets, poppers, sausage dip, fritters, grilled cheese, and hushpuppies.
Most pimento cheese recipes call for mayonnaise, but cream cheese, sour cream, or a combination of these ingredients are suitable substitutes. To substitute either cream cheese or a combination, add three-quarters of a cup instead of the mayonnaise.
If you would like to add a bit more heat to your spread, feel free to add one or two tablespoons of finely diced jalapeños with the ribs and seeds removed.
I like to use extra-sharp cheddar in this recipe, but feel free to use mild or sharp if you prefer.
I use a food processor fitted with a shredding disk to grate my cheddar and it only takes seconds. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a box grater, vegetable chopper, or a sharp knife. If using a knife, slice the blocks as thinly as possible and then cut it into thin strips.
More southern recipes:
If you are looking for other popular recipes from the South, check out these delicious favorites:
- Southern Potato Salad
- Southern Pecan Praline Cake
- Southern Style Crab Cakes
- Easy Classic Southern Tomato Pie
- Southern Fried Fish
- Black-Eyed Pea Soup
- Southern Collard Greens
- Southern Deviled Eggs
Intrigued? Here is a link to all of my Southern Recipes.
★ If you make this dish, please leave a comment and give this recipe a star rating. I would love to know how you liked it!
Thank you for visiting Grits and Pinecones!
Old-Fashioned Pimento Cheese Recipe
- Food processor with a shredding disk, box grater or vegetable chopper
- 5 ounces extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese
- 5 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese
- ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup minced roasted red peppers drained, or pimento peppers
- Use food processor fitted with a shreding disk and grate the cheese.
- Drain the roasted red peppers and mince.
- Place the grated cheese, red and black pepper, roasted red peppers, and mayonnaise in a medium-size bowl and mix to combine.
- Cover and store in the refrigerater until you are ready to serve.